When it comes to good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll Trucker Diablo are a band who never fail to produce the goods. No longer are they just a local delicacy, the lads from Co.Armagh have been blazing a trail across the UK and beyond! Hard working, music savvy with the tunes to boot – they’ve been brewing a cocktail for success which is ready to be dished out to the masses. Their new album has been lauded as a modern classic rock masterpiece by outlets around the world which has seen their name travel further than ever before We squeezed Peter aboard the Big Truck to find out the secrets to their success!
► The band have recently released their second album “Songs of Iron”. After the positivity surrounding your debut LP, how did you feel going into this record?
Tom Harte (Vocals/Guitar): I wouldn’t say we were over confident, but we relatively confident about what we were set to record as we’d been playing a good five or six of the tunes live for some time. Those had been received well, so we had a fair idea that people would like at least half of the record, haha.
We felt that the other half of the album which nobody had heard was strong as well so we were very excited to finally get them in the studio because when you’ve been playing songs for around eighteen months you really want to get them recorded. However time wasn’t on our side and because our American label had just re-released our first album (Devil Rhythm) we were trying to push that as much as we could.
► When did your American label come on board?
We first started working with Ripple in 2012 and later in the year they did a re-release of “Devil Rhythm”. We now also have a label in France (Bad Reputation) which is pretty cool, and they also re-released the album in Europe. So we started work on this new record at the start of the year and they were like “Jesus, you guys don’t stop!”, but we hadn’t released a new record in three years so we were ready to go!
Both of them have been so suportive and have been on board with everything we’ve done. For us it was about balancing the music side of our lives with everything else going on.
❝ It’s not about getting blocked and drinking Buckfast. Well, we still do that, but not all the time.❞
► With labels in various countries, where did you record the new LP?
In Einstein Studios, Antrim. I’ve been recording music there for fifteen years now. I know the guy who runs it very well, we’re good mates, and he gets exactly what the band is about and the sound which we are looking for. It took a while during our early stages to develop the “trucker sound”, but we think that when people hear one of our songs they know it’s us.
► We can’t deny that you’ve cracked it, what do you personally feel makes a Trucker Diablo song sound the way it does?
We’ve always wanted bass to be the centrepiece to our sound. The bass is so loud in the album and that’s something we consciously did. We did that on our previous album too.
► Why’s that the case?
I think it’s because the guys are big fans of bands from the seventies and when you listen to their songs you can really hear the bass. In most guitar driven bands they like to have their guitars do the talking – but our guitars aren’t super heavy. We let the bass fill out the heaviness of our sound.
We’re not trying to be a metal band but it sounds really big and ballsy when we are playing live and in the studio. For me I’m really glad that we have that unique sound which sets us aside a wee bit.
► For your new album you used crowd-sourced funding. Tell us more about the “Push The Truck” campaign?
Last year played over forty shows and our original idea was to play all those shows, save the money, then use it on the album. But as the year progressed people in the UK wanted us back to play – I think we went over the UK six different times for shows last year. Due to that a lot of money was absorbed into travel costs.
So I came up with the idea for “Push The Truck” where people could buy a square and get their own photograph within the album. We’re great believers that it’s not just our journey, it’s the fans of the band’s too so why can’t they be apart of it? So we thought of that idea and it worked really well! We ended up raising over half the money for the album. It couldn’t have worked out better. We were so pleased to have that many people get behind us and support what we are doing.
► So, “Sons Of Iron”, what’s the story behind the album’s title?
It’s a bit of a play on words. There’s taking the literal word for the metal, and for us we want the songs to last and have longevity like a solid piece of Iron. But because we’re from Northern Ireland, ie. “Nord Iron” we just thought we’d mix the two and call the record “Songs Of Iron”.
► Have you been surprised by the scale of the reach the album has had? Gaining an overwhelming positive reaction from critics and fans alike.
You know, I did six interviews for Australian press last week and they all knew so much about the band and they all loved the songs! I was like “Jesus, this stuff is traveling so fast”, it’s totally out of our control but it’s a good thing in a way because we want the music to travel. It’s incredible, we played Paris and everybody was singing along, we just thought “Holy shit! This is bonkers!”.
It has been fantastic for us as when you’ve played in bands for so long your priorities change in terms of why you’re doing it. You’re doing it for yourself but your also doing it for your family. You want to be doing it full time. It’s not about getting blocked and drinking Buckfast – well, we still do that, but not all the time haha.
► For you then what’s the main aim of the band?
We all want to be full time musicians, we want to keep writing music. I remember being sixteen buying Pearl Jam and Metallica albums, and those records making me feel a certain way, like you want to be in a band and play music. I suppose for me anyway I wanna write songs which people love. If I can do that full time then that would be perfect.
► It must be fantastic to have your music compared to such Irish rock greats as Thin Lizzy?
I grew up with Thin Lizzy and there is a definite influence in my our music. In fact there is a song on the album which we dedicated to Thin Lizzy. The classic rock sound for us is were we belong, we pay homage to those riffs and melodies because that’s exactly what we think sounds cool. We believe in those big choruses which everybody can sing-a-long to, so we’re not the kind of band to pidgeon-hole ourselves into only being “Rock” or “Metal”, and we think with the likes of “Voodoo” that we’ve proved we can do that as everybody seems to love that song – rock fans or not.
► Are you ever self conscious of perhaps sounding too much like other bands when you’re writing new songs?
My voice often gets compared to James Hetfield from Metallica but it’s not a conscious thing, it’s more something which you inherit from listening to those bands. I’m a massive Pearl Jam fan but I don’t sound like Eddie Vedder haha. A lot of people when we play think we’ve American for some reason and think we’re from the Deep South. I listened to a lot of bands from the Deep South when I was growing up like Crying Love so that probably ends up transferring into our music. However all of our music is a natural evolution of years playing music. With a genre like Classic Rock you’re going to have strong sounding ties to some of the biggest and most recognisable bands of all time.
If you sound like AC/DC, great, loads of people love AC/DC. If you can sound familiar but new then that can help you.
Photo – Trudi Knight @ www.bandsonstage.com
► Last time we were chatting to you guys it was before your one in a lifetime slot supporting the Foo Fighters at Tennent’s Vital 2012. How did that show shape the band over the past ten months or so?
Wow, it’s nearly a year already?! That show has really helped our profile. Having “supported the Foo Fighters” on your CV is something every band wants. You don’t really think about it at the time, it’s just so surreal that you’re actually there. The only thing your focused on is making it a great show and then see what happens next.
We made sure we enjoyed ourselves though, it was great to have a few beers and meet the guys from the Foo Fighters who were nothing but nice. It was the kind of chance most people would pay for.
That experience has made us want it even more in a way. We got a taste of what it could be like playing in a band full time and we’ve pushing harder to make that a reality ever since. The media attention around that show was amazing. We did radio, TV, the whole lot and that helped push the band name further than ever before. It’s definitely helped us become a better band as we’ve all now got the same focused goal. At the end the day we all work and because we’re working class guys it has helped keep us grounded.
► After playing with Dave Grohl and Co. who else would you still like to tick off the wish list?
It has to be Metallica, it’d just be amazing to meet and play with those guys. They were such a big influence when I was growing up it would be a dream. I’d be class to play with the likes of Lynard Skynard, Crying Love and Live too … but they’re all split up unfortunately. Typical. Haha.
► Currently what is the short term future of Trucker Diablo?
We took a bit of time off at the start of the year as we had some songs which we really wanted to play but couldn’t until the album was release in May. So now that the album is out we are prepared to go all guns blazing.
We’ve been to France playing Paris last month and because of that we’re playing a festival there this weekend! Then after that it’s all the local stuff – Glasgowbury, Stendhal and then at the end of the July we’re over to the mainland UK for two festivals. We’re playing a festival in down in Cork called Independence which is an amazing show with some great bands on the bill. Local venue wise we’ll be playing Portrush, which is a great venue at the Playhouse.
► Is there a UK tour in the pipeline?
In October we’ll be playing around eight to ten days all over the UK and Ireland so we’re looking forward to that. That’ll actually lead us back to France to play another festival!
► What is it about Trucker Diablo that the French seem the love?
It’s strange, the worst reviews of the album have actually come from France. When we came over to Paris we were very worried thinking that perhaps they just weren’t into it at all. But then we played and the whole place was completely packed and jumping! Off that back of that show our label guy said he could get us twenty shows there, as you can imagine we turned to him straight away and told him to get it booked! So we’ll see if that comes together for us.
► Australia are big fans too I’m lead to believe?
Yeah, Australia’s biggest radio station has been playing “Drive” on rotation for the past month which nobody really knows except us because we’ve getting loads of message on Twitter from there! The promoter of Australia’s equivalent to Download called Soundwave has been commenting on our Twitter so perhaps we’ll be able to go there and play a few shows there as that festival tours around the country.
With our label being American they’ve been looking to get us over there and play a few shows too so we could end up raking up a fair amount of air miles but the time the year is over. Come 2014 we’d hope to be even bigger and take the band to other bigger counties. Onwards and upwards!